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Microsoft spending 7 figures to revive Gmail smear campaign

Update: Some of Microsoft’s new ads appear to have made their way onto YouTube. Microsoft also has a dedicated site at where it is running the campaign. The company is also going after Google search shopping results calling it “nothing more than a list of targeted ads” and suggesting users try Bing. Another video below.

Microsoft ran its “Googlighting” ad campaign last year, attempting to convince users to pick Hotmail and Office 365 over Gmail and Google Apps. With Microsoft recently unveiling its latest versions of Office and the online Office 365 service, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company is about to revive its smear campaign with ads outlining the “consumer-privacy pitfalls in Gmail.” The ads will apparently promote while focusing on the methods Google uses to display ads in Gmail. One of the images for an upcoming ad, according to the report, will include the tagline “Think Google respects your privacy? Think again.”

Microsoft also told the publication that it will spend seven figures on the new Gmail campaign. WSJ explained:

In the campaign, Microsoft plans to criticize Gmail for the way it selects ads to be shown to users. Google computers scan Gmail messages to try to place advertisements related to the content of those messages. Microsoft says it conducted a survey showing consumers remain unaware of that scanning, which has generated criticism at times in the past… In the ad campaign, Microsoft states that doesn’t show ads to users based on the content of their email messages. It does conduct automated scans of email content to stop spam and other unwanted activity, the company says. Microsoft also has said it shows ads in tailored to the subject lines of emails.

Google responded to the claims about how Gmail displays ads:

Google stressed that employees never see the contents of Gmail messages. “Advertising keeps Google and many of the websites and services Google offers free of charge,” according to a statement issued by a spokesman for the company. “No humans read your email or Google Account information in order to show you advertisements.”

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Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s weekly Logic Pros series and makes music as one half of Toronto-based Makamachine.